ICC and Nige­ria’s an­titer­ror­ism fight

Weekly Trust - - View - He­len John­son

Nige­ria has been down the rough road in the past 10 years. It has seen the worst of con­flicts, es­pe­cially in the North­east. In­se­cu­rity has been a sig­nif­i­cant dare to the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment in re­cent times. The ac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties of Boko Haram have led to enor­mous loss of lives and prop­erty. This is wor­ri­some.

The ac­tiv­i­ties of Boko Haram and other armed groups have greatly af­fected the econ­omy and the peo­ple and this is of great con­cern to the gov­ern­ment and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. I will say holis­ti­cally that the ef­forts of the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment so far have been quite com­mend­able. How­ever, more is still re­quired, even from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and other such agen­cies like the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (NHRC), with about one mil­lion peo­ple dis­placed from their homes, Nige­ria has the third high­est num­ber of In­ter­nally Dis­placed Per­sons (IDPs) in the world, be­hind Syria and Iraq. In my opin­ion, the time to act is now. The rel­e­vant in­ter­na­tional agen­cies should come to the res­cue of Nige­ria. Top amongst these or­ga­ni­za­tions is the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC). And you might want to ask what the ICC is. The ICC is an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­cial in­sti­tu­tion with the man­date to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute the most se­ri­ous crimes un­der in­ter­na­tional law - geno­cide, crimes against hu­man­ity and war crimes - when na­tional ju­ris­dic­tions are un­able or un­will­ing to do so. As a per­ma­nent court of last re­sort, the ICC plays a cru­cial role to end im­punity for the per­pe­tra­tors of these atro­cious crimes, en­sure jus­tice to vic­tims and con­trib­ute to the preven­tion of such crimes.

The ICC was cre­ated by a mul­ti­lat­eral treaty, the Rome Statute, in 1998. To­day, the Rome Statute has 124 states par­ties in­clud­ing eight mem­ber states of the Pa­cific Is­lands Fo­rum. Nige­ria de­posited its in­stru­ment of rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Rome Statute on Sep­tem­ber 27, 2001. The ICC may, there­fore, ex­er­cise its ju­ris­dic­tion over Rome Statute crimes com­mit­ted on the ter­ri­tory of Nige­ria or by its na­tion­als from July 1, 2002 on­wards.

The threats posed by armed groups in Nige­ria are un­der­min­ing the ex­is­tence of Nige­ria as one po­lit­i­cal ter­ri­tory. It needs to be suf­fi­ciently stated that Boko Haram and other mil­i­tant groups in Nige­ria have maimed and de­stroyed. They have com­mit­ted mass mur­der; they have in­fringed on peo­ple’s right to a peace­ful life and de­stroyed their hu­man rights in ev­ery pos­si­ble man­ner. The United Na­tions along with other in­ter­na­tional rights groups have demon­strated that the re­spect for hu­man rights and pro­tec­tion of civil­ians is the most im­por­tant thing for any coun­try. The United Na­tions also now won­ders why or­ga­ni­za­tions like ICC have kept mum.

It is in­struc­tive to state that the ICC needs to con­sider the pe­ti­tions of agen­cies and or­ga­ni­za­tions against the act of Boko Haram, IPOB and IMN along with as­cer­tain­ing the num­ber of civil­ians af­fected by mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion. As stated ear­lier, they have been known to mete out in­dis­crim­i­nate tor­ture and have car­ried out hor­ri­fy­ing ex­e­cu­tions. Boko Haram is en­list­ing young men and women into its vi­o­lent doc­trines at very high speed. Be­hav­ioral sci­en­tists have found out that in­stead of de­liv­er­ing jus­tice, re­venge of­ten cre­ates only a cy­cle of re­tal­i­a­tion, in part be­cause one per­son’s mo­ral bal­ance rarely aligns with that of an­other.

As sim­ple as it sounds, if Nige­ria is un­set­tled, sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa will re­main un­sta­ble. If acts of ter­ror­ism are not abated, we might be deal­ing with a more sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem in the fu­ture, hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis that the world might not be able to han­dle. Acts of geno­cide should be treated as one. And per­pe­tra­tors brought to book. Its high time the ICC be­gan to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to sanc­tion crim­i­nal el­e­ments who take hu­man­ity for granted.

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